Our Origins


The Beginnings of Open Floor International

Open Floor International (OFI) was born in the aftermath of Gabrielle Roth’s death. OFI’s four original Founders, Kathy Altman, Lori Saltzman, Andrea Juhan & Vic Cooper (KLAV), had trained and worked closely with Gabrielle, the founder and creator of the 5Rhythms® movement practice, for decades. Her dying, while painful, also brought an unexpected gift (as death often does); the opportunity to expand their creative horizons outside the box.

Open Floor International Founders

The  Brain Trust

In 2013, “KLAV” (as they are affectionately called) brought together a group of colleagues and friends –  a brain trust –  to explore the possibility of pooling their collective knowledge. This brain trust was comprised of movement teachers from all over the globe. They met online several times and decided to join forces, gathering their vast wealth of experience and knowledge. Together they birthed a new movement practice that reflects the universal principles inherent in all embodiment practices.

Who are these additional Founding Members?

Cynthia Kennedy, Geordie Jahner, Sue Rickards, Lucie Nerot, Irit Ziv-Ron, Deborah Jay-Lewin, Nele Vandezande, Rivi Diamond, Cathy Ryan, Sarah Davies and Tim Stephenson.

Over the next few months, these Founding Members immersed themselves in creative chaos, and when they emerged, they were in agreement about several things:

  • A desire to create an organization that was “of the people,” organized in a grass-roots manner.
  • To create a vibrant Open Floor curriculum for teaching embodied movement that:
    • reflected their many years of combined experience;
    • included new developments in research and learning in science, the arts and mindfulness;
    • operated under a Creative Commons license, allowing other people to share, use, and build upon what they created.


A radical choice: Dynamic Governance

Because several members of the Brain Trust had previous experience with Sociocracy (an inclusive organizational governance structure aka Dynamic Governance), the not-yet-named Open Floor International was able to use it to create the grass-roots organization they were longing for.

The three main values of Dynamic Governance are:

  1. Equivalence: individuals function as peers in deciding how to accomplish their collective aims
  2. Effectiveness: including continual self-improvement
  3. Transparency: direct access to all policy documents and records relating to one’s work. No secrets! This supports equivalence, effectiveness and responsibilities of co-leadership.

Dynamic Governance was quickly adopted, and over the next 18 months it supported the hard-working Founders and Founding Members  as they remained in the creative cauldron, developing both the vibrant Open Floor curriculum they hungered for, as well as the organization that would support it.

The organization adopted the name ‘Open Floor’ generously offered by Andrea Juhan. The name originally referred to a powerful therapeutic movement process Andrea had designed and developed.  It is now used to include the entirety of the new curriculum – Open Floor Movement Practice, as well as the organization – Open Floor International (OFI).


Coming Together

Over time, more help was needed! As the organization began to take shape, more and more volunteer Working Members joined in, and within a year, Open Floor’s organizational chart grew to include more than 40 working members and 8 working circles, with many sub-circles engaged in various projects and tasks.


The First Open Floor Training

Together, meeting regularly in virtual Zoom rooms, sitting on different circles and doing different kinds of jobs, these volunteers helped create the first Teacher Training. Building on years of experience as producers and faculty of other trainings, the organization offered its first five rounds of training in Europe, New Zealand and USA. Between 2015 and 2019, Open Floor International trained 250 new Open Floor movement practice teachers who are now taking this work out in the world in many diverse ways and across a wide range of applications. The Educational Programs Circle (EPC) is currently refining the teacher training program with an intent to offer additional training rounds in the coming years.


Becoming a Non Profit

In 2018, it became clear that Open Floor International had birthed a grass-roots organization with a strong desire to give back to the community. Understanding these embodiment practices offer far-reaching benefits for physical, psychological and spiritual sustenance, and as such, there should be further access to people from all walks of life, Open Floor registered as a not-for-profit organization (in the USA), and was granted 501C3 status in 2020.

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